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Millennials and river cruising - Is this a pair?

Susan Wolfson

You may have seen this article on Fox News Travel describing a river cruise line targeting millennials.  The article notes:

U offers four eight-day voyages, including a Paris roundtrip on the Seine and an Eastern European trip from Regensburg to Budapest down the Danube, Main, and Rhine. In addition, during the winter holidays, it will add two five-day festive-themed trips, says Uniworld President and CEO Ellen Bettridge, who explains the shorter trips are aimed toward working professionals with limited time off.

In contrast to traditional cruises, U offers as many as five overnights in port compared with one on most Uniworld cruises, according to the CEO, which may appeal to those looking for a quick getaway.

The Genesis of U by Uniworld - Millennial driven

Uniworld is betting that Millennials will be attracted to river cruises U by Uniworld is looking for a few good millennials

We spoke with U by Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge at the Avoya Conference to better understand the product.

Uniworld had two older river cruise ships which needed some attention.  The rooms were very small.  We know since we sailed one of them down the Seine River.  It was a great experience but the cabin was so small that we needed to communicate when one of us needed to cross in front of the bed since there was barely enough room for one person.  Uniworld offers luxury experiences and their more modern ships have much nicer cabins.  Since the ships needed to be modified anyway, they decided to use them for a new market.

Millenials are a rising force in the travel business.  As more and more get into the workforce and have disposable incomes, travel is the next logical step.  The average age of the river cruiser has been coming down recently but it's certainly not a millennial crowd.  So why not tap a new market?

What did they do to the traditional river cruise experience?

U by Uniworld   targets millennials: 21 - 45 year olds.  So what are they doing to appeal to this age group?

  • They'll have Paint and Wine classes echoing the many paint places that seem to be everywhere (here's one example)
  • Mixology classes
  • Chef's cooking classes
  • Silent discos on the top deck.
  • Lots of WiFi
  • Yoga sessions
  • Different excursions including vineyard hikes, rock climbing in Bamberg, trips to the rooftops of Paris, cheese tasting in Amsterdam
  • Two meals a day are included featuring local street food.  Some examples include pizza with local toppings, homemade granola, and lots of comfort food
  • Craft beers and wines are on board; some cruises include a wine tasting
  • Attend festivals like Oktoberfest, the Sziget Festivat (Eurowoodstock)

What else is different about U by Uniworld?

  • The decor is totally different - much more modern and relaxed (think hammocks and beanbags)
  • Many cabins will accommodate three people (easy for solo travelers)
  • There will be many more overnights in ports so you can stay out late
  • There will be more choices once in port
  • It will be less inclusive than the traditional Uniworld cruises.  More optional excursions and two meals a day for example.

Who should go other than millennials?

Who is U by Uniworld targeting?  People like:

  • The Foodie:  wine tours, pub crawls, cider farms and lots of good eats
  • The Culture buff:  Museums, architecture, art and city centers
  • The Adventurer: Bike excursions, kayak trips, bridge jumping, rock climbing and rafting
  • The Romantic: Engagements, anniversaries, honeymoons, baby-moons
  • The Solo traveler: Lots of other solos on board make a nice mix and there's rooms and rates specifically geared to solo travelers.
  • The Explorer: explore cities with no plan in mind
  • The Night owl: sleep in stay out late, see shows, hit the clubs.

Good team work Good team work

Benefits of a great team

Ever hear of Contiki?  (check out this blog for some more info).  They run amazing land based tours for this same age group.  Since they are sister brands, each ship will include two hosts from Contiki.  Great idea! Uniworld is renown for their high level of service and sophistication. You get Uniworld's high end experience in river cruising and Contiki's understanding and experience with millennials on land.    So this is a great team.

Ready to go?

Well not quite yet.  You can certainly book now but voyages start Spring 2018.  Not too far away really.  U by Uniworld won't go to Portugal or Southern France. But it will feature trips along the Seine, Danube and the Rhine.  But before you book there's some questions a good travel agent can answer for you : Is this the right fit for me? Which itinerary meets my interests? When's the best time to go., Which cabin category to choose, When to fly to Europe, What documentation do I need, should I get insurance, what if I want to stay over night before or after the cruise. And of course - what's the best deal available?

It will be fascinating to see how successful Uniworld will be.  This is a first and it makes perfect sense to pair Millennials with river cruises.  But there are alternatives of course that a really good travel agent can review and compare for you.  Introductory pricing looks pretty enticing though.  Stay tuned.  Or contact us for more information.

Explore other blogs on this site to learn more about river cruising.

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